Scion, a brand that falls under Toyota's corporate umbrella, is targeted at young buyers. The subcompact xA hatchback is powered by a 103-horsepower four-cylinder.
For 2006, the standard 160-watt Pioneer sound system features a redesigned faceplate and new steering-wheel-mounted audio controls. It also gains compatibility with portable music players, and an Apple iPod-specific setup is available.
Factory options are limited to an automatic transmission and side-impact and side curtain-type airbags. Approximately 40 factory accessories, including fog lamps, a rear spoiler, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, floormats and auxiliary lighting kits, can be installed.
Styling touches on the xA include sculpted wheel arches, a wide front grille and substantial rocker-panel extensions, which the company says "enhance the horizontal, muscular stance and visually draw the vehicle closer to the ground." The lower grille gets a three-piece design for 2006, and larger, square side inlets replace the circular portals on 2005 models. The headlights and taillights get minor updates, and side mirrors now have turn-signal indicators. Riding a 93.3-inch wheelbase, the xA is 154.1 inches long overall and 60.2 inches tall.
The five-passenger xA has sport front seats and a 60/40-split, folding rear seat. Metal-tone trim decorates the instrument panel, which contains black-on-white gauges. An illuminated, translucent storage compartment accentuates the center cluster. Cargo volume totals 11.7 cubic feet.
Standard features include air conditioning, a tilt steering wheel, a cargo cover, and power windows, locks and mirrors. Digital Scion Sound Processing lets the driver choose between three audio modes: Neutral, Hear and Feel. For 2006, the center console gains a connector for portable music players. An iPod setup that allows users to operate the player via both the audio head unit and new steering-wheel-mounted controls is also available.
The xA uses a 1.5-liter four-cylinder that produces 103 hp at 6,000 rpm. A five-speed-manual or four-speed-automatic transmission can be installed.
Antilock brakes are standard. Side-impact and side curtain-type airbags are optional. All seating positions have three-point safety belts.
Because the xA is more conventional in appearance than the boxy Scion xB, its appeal may extend a bit beyond the youth market. Nevertheless, this hatchback conveys a youthful personality, especially when it's equipped with distinctive accessories like auxiliary interior lighting.
Performance, ride comfort and handling are comparable to Toyota's other small models, but the xA fails to stand out in any category other than cuteness and price. The xA doesn't feel quite as well constructed as some small cars or as sound as typical Toyotas, but it's more solid than the xB.